Hanna makes landfall

Tropical Storm Hanna made landfall at 3:20 a.m. near the border of North and South Carolinas, according to the National Hurricane Center.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Tropical Storm Hanna made landfall at 3:20 a.m. near the border of North and South Carolinas, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm is expected to move along the Interstate 95 corridor Saturday morning with the center of the storm expected to be between Fayetteville and Clinton at 8 a.m.

It is possible more flooding could be seen to the West of the projected track, WRAL Meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.

In the hours leading up to landfall, the storm sent heavy bands of rain across the state causing flooding and road closures.

Flash flood warnings were issued for some counties including Cumberland, Harnett, Johnston, Durham, Sampson, Orange and Wake.

In Raleigh, Western Boulevard eastbound near Pullen Road was blocked due to flooding. Avent Ferry Road near Trailwood Drive was also closed due to high water. The intersection of Hillsborough Street and Chapel Hill Road near the State Fairgrounds also saw high water.

Raleigh received more than 2 inches of rain, as of 3 a.m. Saturday.

Durham police closed two roads due to high water: Fletcher's Chapel at Mineral Springs Road and Snow Hill Road at Snow Valley.

Cross Creek was overflowing at the intersection of Mason Street and Ray Avenue in downtown Fayetteville. As of 3 a.m., about 2.75 inches of rain had fallen in Fayetteville.

N.C. Highway 55 from South Salem to South Hughes streets in Apex was also closed.

Chapel Hill police knocked on doors in the Brookwood Condos on South Estes Drive to warn residents that a nearby creek was rising. Officers asked residents to move their cars and said there was no immediate danger to the condos.

Around Myrtle Beach, floodwaters prompted the closure of U.S. Highway 17.

Hanna's outer storm bands also caused power outages throughout eastern and coastal North Carolina.

More than 1,275 Progress Energy customers had lost power in Cary and Holly Springs, and 550 Raleigh customers were also without service. Another larger outage was affecting approximately 1,675 customers in Wayne County.

Crews were assessing damage but could not estimate when power would be restored.

Duke Energy reported 490 customers without power in Orange County.
More than 1,400 customers were without power in Wilmington, and about 225 customers in the Carolina Beach/Kure Beach area, Progress Energy officials reported at 1 a.m. Saturday. Wrightsville Beach also reported sporadic outages. About 350 customers in the Sharpsburg area were without power.

Hanna's effect

Hanna’s first bands moved into North Carolina Friday afternoon, bringing showers as far inland as Greensboro.

Early Saturday, strong winds were bending palm trees in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., where more than 3 inches of rain were reported. Officials there said they were happy the storm did not make landfall during high tide, which occurred around 12:30 a.m.

Conditions at Wrightsville Beach began deteriorating Friday night as squalls began hitting the area. Just after midnight a WRAL crew clocked a wind gust of 67 mph.

“I’m not scared. … It’s going to be fun. If it gets a little too rough, I’m definitely going to go in and batten down the hatches,” said Phil Broom, of Wrightsville Beach.

Up to 7 inches of rain could fall in Wrightsville Beach before noon Saturday.

Elizabeth Debois was among those making the most of the storm's arrival in Wrightsville Beach on Friday afternoon. "We tried to show her a hurricane," she said of her daughter.

Georgetown County in South Carolina reported some localized flooding was reported in low lying and coastal areas. Highway 17 was closed due to flooding.

Seas began to get rough as Hanna approached. Ten-foot seas were reported off Charleston, S.C. Friday evening. Around 11:45 p.m. 26-foot seas were reported off the North Carolina coast near Wilmington.

The first band of showers from Hanna passed through Wilmington by 3 p.m. and was followed by sunny skies there. During the day beachgoers hit water, despite the dangers of rip currents and waterspouts.

Conditions worsened as Hanna got closer to making landfall. As of 11 p.m. Wilmington had recorded more than 2 inches of rain.

In Nags Head, light wind and heavy surf were seen into the evening. Oak Island reported flooding on a waterway along the beachfront. Heavy rains were also seen in Bald Head and Ocean Isle.

In Cumberland, Wake and Durham counties Hanna caused squalls into early Saturday morning.

Late Friday, tornado warnings were issued in Duplin and Onslow counties late Friday and there were reports of tornado-like images on weather radar. There were no reports of tornadoes touching down in either county, however.

More than 20 flights out of Raleigh-Durham International Airport were canceled Saturday. Airport officials said individual airlines are making the decision to cancel flights. People who are planning to fly in or out of RDU Saturday morning are asked to contact their airliner to make sure that their flights are on-time.

Hanna and Ike

Some residents and vacationers in Myrtle Beach told WRAL News they were more concerned about Hurricane Ike than Tropical Storm Hanna.

“We’re pretty relaxed about it. I don’t think it’s going to be that big of a deal. If it was Ike on the other hand, we’d be talking different,” said Jennifer Eshraghi, of Wrightsville Beach.

Ike, a Category 3 storm, seemed to be on a path similar to the one taken by Andrew, the Category 5 monster that devastated South Florida in 1992. Ike could hit Florida by the middle of next week.

“I don’t think it’s (Hanna) going to be that bad. But, like I said, Ike is a different story. If he comes this way, we are in trouble,” said Bryan Hailey, a store manager in north Myrtle Beach.

Tourist Elizabeth Winebarger said she would be riding out Hanna the storm in Myrtle Beach.

“I’ve got a granddaughter named Hanna and a grandson named Ike, so I am used to those two storms,” Winebarger said.

WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said Ike didn’t look to be a potential problem for the Tar Heel State.

What the Triangle can expect

Hanna's approach makes conditions ripe for tornadoes across the state. The National Weather Service issued tornado watches for more than 40 counties directly in the storm's expected cone of impact until 5 a.m. Saturday. They covered an area from Johnston County east and south to the coast.

Heavy rain began Wake County, Rocky Mount and Roanoke Rapids in the early evening, and continued overnight. Rain became heavier and steadier into Saturday morning.

With the center of circulation east of the Triangle, strong winds will be the most apparent effect in Raleigh, WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said.

"After midnight, look for sustained winds at 35-45 mph, with gusts of up to 50. That may last through noon Saturday," Maze said.

Besides strong winds, heavy rainfall and the isolated chance for tornadoes remain in the forecast for the Triangle through Saturday, WRAL Meteorologist Nate Johnson said.

Over the next five days, the Triangle could see more than 5 inches of rain, Johnson said.

Government gets ready

Gov. Mike Easley, in a Friday morning news conference, said that Hanna is expected to bring more rain than once anticipated, and that state officials are preparing for major flooding, especially in the Neuse and Tar rivers.

The storm could produce rainfall accumulations of 3 to 7 inches from coastal South Carolina northward through North Carolina into central Virginia, Maryland and southeastern Pennsylvania.

Isolated maximum amounts of 10 inches are possible.

"This is not just going to be a coastal issue," Easley said. "The wind and rain are going to be far spread."

Some Southeastern states, including North Carolina, declared emergencies Thursday, and officials urged residents to head inland.

About 400 people were in shelters in the Carolinas.

In Wilmington, Kirby King, a 50-year-old Army veteran, arrived at a shelter in an elementary school housing about 140 other people, but said he didn't think the storm would be bad.

"I've been married twice and been in the service 15 years. This storm doesn't scare me," he said.

With the risks ranging from flash floods to high winds to tornadoes, about 70 counties in North Carolina and Virginia are under severe weather watches or warnings.

Several community colleges planned to close for the day Saturday.

An emergency, bilingual hotline (1-888-835-9966 or TTY 1-877-877-1765) began 24-hour operations at 10 a.m. Friday. The hotline will provide weather updates, shelter locations, highway closings and, later, act as a referral service for those in need of help.

Counties across the state made emergency plans and considered evacuations, while others opened shelters.

Tracking Hanna

Green dots on the map (below) represent counties that have announced emergency plans for Hanna. Blue dots show where WRAL news crews are throughout the state. The sun and clouds symbols show the locations of weather-data monitoring stations. Click those for updated local temperature, rainfall and wind statistics.

WRAL News will cover the landfall of Hanna overnight. The Late Show With David Letterman and Late, Late Show With Craig Ferguson will air on the WRAL NewsChannel.


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